114 sick: Norovirus at Vermont restaurant

From Norway to Vermont, Norovirus can strike anywhere, including the Windjammer Restaurant in South Burlington, Vt.

Health officials now say 114 cases can be tied to the South Burlington restaurant. They say 108 people got sick by eating there. The other six fell ill by coming into contact with someone who ate at the restaurant.

The Vermont Department of Health says it is hearing about more cases but they happened prior to the restaurant closing down last Friday.

The eatery reopened Sunday.

2 sick with E. coli O157:H7 from Vermont’s Bread & Butter Farm

Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing, LLC, a Ferrisburg, Vt., establishment, is recalling approximately 133 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ground beef was produced on July 24 and 25, 2017.  The following products are subject to recall:

* 1-lb. vacuum sealed packages containing “Bread & Butter Farm Ground Beef” with lot codes #072517BNB and #072417BNB.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 9558” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were sold at Bread & Butter farm in Shelburne, Vt. (I could write a book about the BS in the pic, above; maybe I will).

On September 30, 2017, FSIS was notified of an investigation of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Vermont Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FSIS determined the cooked beef burgers that were served at an event at Bread & Butter Farm was the probable source of the reported illnesses. Based on the epidemiological investigation, two case-patients were identified in Vermont with illness onset dates ranging from September 18, 2017, to September 23, 2017. Traceback information indicated that both case-patients consumed ground beef products at Bread & Butter Farm which was supplied by Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing. Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing, LLC is recalling the products out of an abundance of caution. FSIS continues to work with public health partners on this investigation and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Stick it in: No more pink in the middle for Worthy Burger after 7 sickened

Do you cook burgers to 155F and hold for 15 seconds?

Worthy Burger’s executive chef, Jason Merrill, responded, “Our customers are telling us what temperature they’d like their hamburger.”

barfblog.Stick It InBradley Tompkins, a health surveillance epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health, said the agency confirmed five cases and identified two “probable cases” of shiga toxin-producing E. coli.

In discussing the changes recommended to Worthy Burger, Tompkins said diners or people cooking at home should not rely on the color of their meat to determine if it’s done.

“We want people to be cooking their meat to the appropriate temperature, and checking that the meat has reached the appropriate temperature,” Tompkins said. “People go on color … we would encourage people not to do that.”

Among the changes Worthy Burger has made this month is to alter the wording for its signature Worthy Burger.

Where it once said “a 6 oz grass fed patty served pink in the middle,” it now reads simply “a 6 oz grass fed patty,” according to a menu on the restaurant’s website.

The restaurant has been celebrated in the localvore movement, and Gov. Peter Shumlin was seen eating there this spring.

Use a thermometer? 5 sick in Vermont E. coli outbreak

A South Royalton restaurant voluntarily closed for several days recently and switched food vendors after being contacted by state officials who are investigating an E. coli “cluster” that has sickened at least five people.

worthy.burgerMeanwhile, state officials have released few details about their investigation, including the potential source of the contamination or how widespread the risk may be.

Jason Merrill, executive chef at Worthy Burger, said the Vermont Department of Health approached the restaurant’s leadership team last week and asked them to consider changing some of their food vendors out of precaution.

“They haven’t told me which ones they wanted me to change, so I changed pretty much all of my vendors,” Merrill said, noting he uses six or seven area farms to supply ingredients for the menu at Worthy Burger, which specializes in locally sourced food.

At least five people have contracted E. coli in what state officials have referred to as a “cluster,” according to the Vermont Department of Health. The locations of the five laboratory-confirmed cases, as well as a sixth case listed as “probable,” haven’t been divulged by health officials nor is it clear how the six cases are connected.

The health department is working on identifying the source of the contamination, spokesman Ben Truman said on Thursday.

Pee-cycling? Vermont effort to piss on farms

A small group of environmentalists in Vermont are collecting urine with special toilets that separate no. 1 and no. 2.

no.pee.urinate.signEliza Barclay of NPR – The Salt writes, then they’re pooling the urine of the 170 volunteers in their pilot project (a quart or so, per person, daily) and eventually giving it to a farmer, who’s putting it on her hay fields in place of synthetic fertilizer. The goal is to collect 6,000 gallons this year.

The logic driving this avant-garde project of the Rich Earth Institute, based in Brattleboro, Vt., is that it’s foolish and wasteful to part with the precious nitrogen and phosphorus that moves from the food we eat right through us — especially when farmers have to buy fertilizer at great expense to put those very same nutrients back into the soil.

What’s more, founders Abraham Noe-Hays and Kim Nace tell The Salt, once our urine enters the wastewater system, drinking water carries it to a treatment facility, where the nutrients become pollutants that can contaminate waterways and cause algal blooms, among other issues.

The idea of “pee-cycling” has much in common with the “night soil” tradition, as well as the newer practice of using biosolids, or sewage sludge that’s been transformed into soil amendment for farmers. Several wastewater treatment plants in the U.S. have been making and donating biosolids, which are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, to farmers for years. But the practice is controversial because some activists claim that even certified biosolids could contain harmful chemicals.d

Georgetown, USC, now Vermont; students are barfing everywhere; no answer from Organic To Go

Susan Schoenfeld, the Vermont Health Department’s deputy epidemiologist, said state and UVM health officials were looking into the possibility that some of the students sickened by the virus got sick shortly after eating a meal at the University Marche, a dining center inside the school’s Living & Learning Center.

“Several of the students who had just eaten a meal at the dining hall became ill,” she said. “We’ve told the university we can’t rule out the possibility that food was related to the outbreak, in addition to person-to-person transmission.”

To date, about 60 students have reported becoming sick with gastroenteritis symptoms over the past few days, but the outbreak now appears to be in decline. Only four new cases of the illness were reported Thursday, according to a UVM memo to the campus community.

The memo also discussed the possible connection of the dining hall to the outbreak and said there was no way to confirm if food in the eatery caused anyone to become sick. The memo said it was possible someone who was sick possibly contaminated otherwise high-quality food.”

High quality? OK, so I’m sure the providers of food to UVM students are concerned about the things that make people barf, and wouldn’t be taken in by some trendy, local, natural thing, at least without asking basic questions about microbial food safety such as irrigation water quality, soil amendments and employee handwashing. 

But I asked the same questions of Organic To Go and have heard nothing.

Raw milk sickens three in Vermont, including toddler, with E. coli

Officials with the Vermont Health Department say raw milk from a local producer is the only epidemiological link involving three cases of E. coli illness.

 Patsy Kelso, an epidemiologist with the health department, said,

"We didn’t find any other common exposure. It’s strong evidence, but it’s not conclusive. It’s still not absolute proof because we didn’t get a hold of any of the raw milk to test."

The name of the raw milk producer is not being released, because the state cannot be sure that the milk was the source, she said.

The state doesn’t have the regulatory authority to force a recall even if a source is pinpointed with proof. Besides, the batch of milk that possibly was the source has already been consumed or discarded, she said. Raw milk has a short shelf life.

Two of the three people ate ice cream made from raw milk at a picnic. The third person drank raw milk from the same producer, but not at the picnic. One of the three recent cases involved a toddler who had kidney problems.